On Saturday 15th of September, the UK’s coolest city will see 10,000 people attend the highly anticipated opening of the V&A Dundee. The first dedicated design museum to open in Scotland and the first time the V&A brand has opened outside of London.
With 500,000 visitors expected in the first year of opening and 350,000 visitors every year after that, all eyes will be on Dundee.
The extraordinary building was designed by internationally acclaimed, Japanese architect, Kengo Kuma, and is the centre of Dundee waterfront’s £1 billion transformation. The exhibitions will play home to artefacts from some of Scotland’s top artists and designers, as well as hosting various guest exhibitions every 6 months.
From September 2018 until the end of February 2019 the V&A will be showcasing Ocean Liners: Speed and Style which will take you back to the golden age of ocean travel.
The V&A has been described as “a living-room for Dundee” and this is a perfect symbol of what it represents. Our Marketing Manager Claire, who is a wheelchair user, was fortunate enough to be invited to a sneak preview of the building before it officially opens.
Claire was immediately impressed when she visited the V&A. Entering is made easy due to automatic doors and a spacious foyer. Its cavernous and bright interior when you first enter is very welcoming. You are greeted by amazing sights of design and culture, all complemented by the backdrop of beautiful views across the River Tay.
The visitor’s desk and café counter are at a fantastic height for wheelchair users, making it easy to interact with staff independently. There are 2 lifts within the building, one beside the main staircase that only goes to the second level and another more hidden at the entrance to the V&A that goes to both the first and second level. The lifts are even able to be used in the event of a fire, providing extra confidence to those who would use this as a means of escape.
It’s truly a place to feel safe and included! This is further shown through the extensive attention to detail across the museum to ensure it is accessible to all. From their ambition to provide a great customer experience with OOVIRT providing front facing staff with customer service training to V&A Dundee being a registered Keep Safe building, with a number of staff trained in BSL. There are also audio tours available to visitors with a visual impairment.
Each exhibition room has been designed at a level that allows all visitors to be able to learn about the displays and the spacious rooms allow everyone to comfortably absorb the culture. The doors to enter the exhibition rooms however are not automatic as they are not able to be left open too long due to temperature control for the artefacts. Claire has been advised though that a member of staff will always be on hand to assist with opening them.
There are even objects that visitors are allowed to touch, but unfortunately being in her wheelchair, Claire found these difficult to reach. However, she has again been assured that artefacts can be brought out from storage for visitors that cannot reach the ones on display.
Another great feature which is definitely needed in Dundee, is a central Changing Place toilet that is open all day and into most of the evening. Although the V&A closes at 5:30pm Saturday – Thursday and 7:30pm on a Friday, the Changing Place toilet will be open until the restaurant closes for those who require it (exact times are still to be confirmed). You must have the code to gain access to the Changing Place toilet, which all staff members should know.
Overall Claire’s favourite artefact in the V&A is the Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Oak Room that can be found in the Scottish Design Galleries. This is amazingly conserved, restored and reconstructed through a partnership between the V&A, Glasgow Museums and Dundee Council. It feels remarkable to be able to get so close to such a historic interior, especially when it comes to accessibility.
A truly iconic building with something for everyone. We cannot wait to hear everyone’s views on the V&A Dundee. Please let us know what you think.
Public photos can not be taken until after the official opening date, so enjoy this video created by Rapid Visual Media for the time being.